Thursday, March 30

Bengal farmer’s son plays key role in India’s moon mission

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A farmer and his wife in Hooghly’s Gurap received a call from their son around 8.30am on Monday, seeking blessings for the success of a project he has been working on. Chandrakanta Kumar, who played a key role in Monday’s launch of Chandrayaan 2, was about to set out for the launch pad in Sriharikota when he called his mother Asima. “Bless me, mother, so that the mission is successfully launched. We are all tense as the mission has been on hold since last week,” Asima quoted her son.

Asima then sat down for a puja while her husband Madhusudan went to till his land. Though poor farmers, Madhusudan and Asima are proud parents of space scientists Chandrakanta and Sasikanta. The brothers, who attended school in Gurap, now work for Isro. Two years ago, Madhusudan and Asima’s elder son became the deputy project director responsible for the RF system of Chandrayaan 2. The appointment culminated in Monday’s successful liftoff.

The proud father recalled the day he named his son. “I was toying with names of the sun but finally named him after the moon. And Chandrakanta ended up making a significant contribution to India’s lunar mission,” he said.

Like their son, the couple was tense about the mission’s success. Neighbours and relatives, who thronged their house, insisted Madhusudan and Asima watch the launch on TV. Madhusudan sat with folded hands as the liftoff was telecast live and after an announcement was made saying Chandrayaan 2 had been successfully launched, the relieved father hugged those sitting next to him.

Chandrakanta, who is 42, is 11 years older than Sasikanta. He attended Gurap’s Majiman Naba Vidyalaya till Class VIII, after which he went on to finish his secondary and higher secondary studies in Khajurdaha High School. He did his physics honours from Ramakrishna Mission Vidya Mandir in Belur and completed his MSc in the subject from Rajabazar Science College. He also has an MTech from this institution. Chandrakanta joined Isro in 2001 and began research in space science.

Parents and neighbours apart, Chandrakanta’s teachers Radhagobinda Ghosh of Khajurdaho High School and Asit Baran Chakraborty of Majiman Naba Vidyalaya were just as proud of their former student. Chakraborty recalled the day Madhusudan brought his elder son to get him admitted in school. “Though Chandrakanta was quite an introvert, he was serious about his studies right from Class I,” he said.

Ghosh, who retired as headmaster of Khajurdaho High School, was an assistant teacher when Chandrakanta was his student. “Chandrakanta hardly mixed with his peers. He was more interested in science and scored the highest in physics, which I taught him. He always pestered me to tell him about books he could study outside of the syllabus. I am proud of my student. He has made Gurap known nationally. Today brought back memories of Chandrakanta working hard in the school physics laboratory,” he recalled.


Source: Times of India

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